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Ploughing the sea: Latin America observed

The U.S. and its mighty project

Reproductions of photographs in halftone. Two photographs on the left show a dredging fleet entering and at work in the locks, with a circular image of the designer of the locks, Harry F Hodges. Two photographs on the right show water welling up through the floor of the lock and how the water is conveyed through cross culverts.Images depicting the construction of locks on the Panama Canal from Ira E Bennett's History of the Panama Canal: its construction and builders.The French construction project of a canal across the isthmus was never completed, cost thousands of lives and was mismanaged financially. In 1904 the United States bought out the French construction project, which had been largely dormant since 1890, and began building what is now known as the Panama Canal.

With its political and financial support fundamental to the newly independent country of Panama, the United States was granted control of the canal. After protracted and fractious negotiations in the second half of the 20th century, the canal eventually became Panamanian sovereign territory on 31 December 1999.

This 'Builders' edition' records both the history of the region and earlier ideas for a trade route across the isthmus, as well as the industrial machinations of the final project, as undertaken by the United States. It covers every aspect of the construction process, including 'The story of the locks', 'Quartering and feeding the canal army' and 'Terminal facilities'. There are diagrams of machinery, information regarding the payroll equipment used and an 'Industrial roll of honour'.

The superpower that built and now controls the Panama Canal is showcasing its vast achievement through this publication and the many plates give an indication of the heavy machinery and labour that were involved in creating this wonder of the modern world.

The plates on show detail some of the locks of the Panama Canal and their designer.

Please note that every effort has been made to trace the estate of the author Ira E Bennett. Please contact us at specialcollections@kcl.ac.uk if you are the copyright holder.

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